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Bitter Seeds (Milkweed Triptych) Paperback – 12 Jul 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (12 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0356501698
  • ISBN-13: 978-0356501697
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A major talent . . . I can't wait to see more (George R. R. Martin, author of A Game of Thrones)

Mad English warlocks battling twisted Nazi psychics? Yes please, thank you. Tregillis's debut has a white-knuckle plot, beautiful descriptions, and complex characters - an unstoppable Vickers of a novel (Cory Doctorow)

A confident and thrilling debut (SFX)

Tregillis delivers a dynamite first novel in Bitter Seeds (SFREVU)

Bitter Seeds shines in its characters about which we get to care a lot, and in the style which is just superb . . . the one novel of 2010 I would recommend to anyone who believes that speculative fiction cannot compete with "literary" novels (FANTASY BOOK CRITIC)

A damned entertaining novel. If Bitter Seeds is any indication of what's to come, then Tregillis will have a fertile writing career. The novel receives my highest recommendations (SFFWORLD)

Bitter Seeds is nothing short of an awesome read as far as I'm concerned. It's a testament to what Tregillis has done here that I'm already of the opinion that he keeps writing then I'll keep reading his work. Can you tell I'm excited? Read Bitter Seeds and you'll see why. (GRAEME'S FANTASY BOOK REVIEW)

An excellent first book, and I am eagerly awaiting number two (Elizabeth Bear)

Bitter Seeds is an incredible debut that Tregillis should be very noted for. It blends a hodgepodge of literary genius, horror, paranormal and history with some amazing dark tones and incredibly believable, tragically flawed characters . . . This is easily one of the most impressive debut works I've read (BOOKWORM BLUES)

I found the tale both convincing and absorbing, and the strong story line had me galloping along towards the final page at a breakneck pace. The backdrops too are atmospheric, the plot lines strong and the characters full of life and interest. I found Bitter Seeds to be a real breath of fresh air, perhaps with subtle aromas of H.P. Lovecraft here and there. I certainly can't wait to read book two. (Book Thing)

Book Description

An extraordinary and audacious debut novel - and a chilling supernatural retelling of World War II

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I went through Bitter Seeds and its sequel, The Coldest War, in the space of a weekend: Tregillis has put together what was for me a compulsive page-turner.

The more I read of British realpolitik in the 20th century, the more I can be convinced that the Allies weren't a group of wonderful, clean people but were forced into all sorts of moral quandaries, whether battling the Nazis or the threat of a Communist future. It's therefore congruent with that view that Tregillis' two sides are both engaged in horrific activity, whether it's the British necromancers and the sacrifices they require, or the experiments to make literal Nazi supermen.

It's also interesting that (because of the turn of events in these books) the US is marginalised. You might almost think that this was the product of wishful thinking by an Englishman, except that Tregillis is American (which you'll notice from the occasional slips - sidewalk instead of pavement, the verb 'to table' meaning to put something aside, rather than bring it to the centre of discussion, and so on - these can be distracting, but the books aren't exactly riddled with them, and I noticed fewer and fewer as the book went on).

This is a gloomy read. Whereas Stross's The Atrocity Archives is quite light in tone, there's grim nastiness on almost every page of Bitter Seeds; if there's a continuum where you have clockwork-steampowered-Nazi zombies fighting teenage vixens in Sucker Punch, and then evil Nazis on the Moon in the Atrocity Archives, Bitter Seeds is quite a long way further over in the sad and miserable end.
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By D. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's a trend recently for books about the backroom specialists whose genius helped win the war for the allies - see for instance Churchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945. I suppose this may have been triggered by revelations about Bletchley Park. It's matched, perhaps, by books about the achievements of wartime German science such as Hitler's Scientists: Science, War and the Devil's Pact.

Tregillis has cleverly blended these genres to produce an original fictional treatment of an alternate world where attempts to produce an army of German supermen (and women) meet their match in Britain's resort to warlockery, coordinated by a secret section in the Admiralty. This is an audacious concept which, on the whole, he pulls off very well. Magic is not without cost - the research efforts of the (real) enemies in the Second World War gave rise to technologies that still threaten us, as, in this book, do their fictional occult counterparts. I particularly liked the parallel developments in England and Germany - both of which start with the recruitment of needy children, that in England done in a much kindlier way than in Germany (at least, so it seems).

This is an entertaining, page turning story, which I have just had to sit down and finish, and I'd highly recommend it. I hope that more is to come from Tregillis.

I only had two quibbles with it.
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By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Aug. 2010
Format: Hardcover
1939. In the closing weeks of the Spanish Civil War, British intelligence agent Raybould Marsh is dispatched to meet an informant who claims to have vital information about some of Nazi Germany's top-secret weapons being field-tested in the conflict. The informant explodes in front of Marsh with no apparent cause. As the clock ticks down to war between Britain and Germany, it is discovered that Germany has developed technology that can turn certain, gifted individuals into super-beings, people who can turn invisible, manipulate fire or even predict the future.

Britain's fortunes in the war turn sour as the Germans seem to be constantly one step ahead of them, destroying the transports carrying out the evacuation of Dunkirk and striking down the radar towers that will be needed to protect the country from Luftwaffe bombing. But Britain is not completely unprotected, and the newly-formed Milkweed organisation has resources to call upon which dwarf even the powers of the German ubermensch. But these powers are not to be summoned lightly...

Bitter Seeds is Ian Tregillis' debut novel and is a brash, refreshing alt-history which sees Nazi superhumans and British warlocks battling to the death during WWII. It's a cool premise, generally well-handled with a large and complex story being effectively told through a small number of POV characters on both sides. However, if the story sounds too big to be contained within a single volume, you would be right. In an increasingly annoying trend in modern SFF publishing, Bitter Seeds is the first novel in a trilogy (dubbed The Milkweed Triptych) despite this fact not being mentioned anywhere on the cover or inside the book.
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